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When you glimpse the first twinkling light or hear “Jingle Bells”, your heart may start palpitating, and panic can overtake you. The holidays often bring unwelcome guests, such as stress, depression, weight gain and financial anxiety. This year, count down with a bit more cheer.

De-stressing and De-compressing

Make a list and simplify as much as possible! Stress meters skyrocket when it comes to decking the halls. Set a date and time to put up the tree and gather others round to help. You may be entertaining guests without sufficient time to prepare. Consider letting someone else do the cooking, such as a grocery store or restaurant. Or pull out one-pot recipes to feed the masses. Guests will probably appreciate a Christmas gumbo or jambalaya.

Setting a Budget

You can be generous without breaking the bank. Make a budget and stick to it. Be creative. Make homemade gifts. Spend time with someone who needs a friend. Extend your generosity by making charitable donations in honor of friends and family.

Lightening Your Bites

It’s okay to allow yourself a few holiday treats, but don’t overindulge. A study released last year from Texas Tech University showed that the subjects studied gained about 1.5 pounds from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. 

While that’s far less weight gain than previously believed, you might try these tips to help maintain your normal weight:

•Have a healthy snack before parties so that you don’t overindulge on sweets and carbs; 

•At parties, limit yourself to three to five “polite” bites and sips;

•Reach for water frequently to curb hunger and offset alcohol

  consumption;

•Get plenty of sleep;

•Keep up regular physical activity; aim for at least 30 minutes

  of exercise a day.

Managing Your Health

The holidays can take an emotional and physical toll on you. If you have chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension or heart disease, remain vigilant about monitoring vital signs, taking medications and maintaining routines.

Taking a Breather

The American Psychological Association found that nearly half of all women in the United States experience heightened stress during the holidays. Along with causing them to overindulge on food or alcohol, it can also impact their immunity and result in colds, flu or other illnesses. Take time out to go for walk, watch a movie or treat yourself to a massage. Reach out to someone if you’re feeling lonely or isolated. Also, be aware of others whom you may be able to offer companionship or holiday cheer.

For information about Thibodaux Regional Health System services, visit thibodaux.com.